So you’re looking for the best gaming monitor under $300. While you don’t need to spend the full amount on all of the picks we’ve chosen for this article, you’re in luck
That price gives you a lot of range for plenty of genuinely great displays, ranging from super-fast 1080p 144 Hz displays to certain 4K IPS displays. You can get even get the vaunted 1440p 144 Hz at this price point!
What’s The Best Gaming Monitor Under $300?
In this article, we’re going to walk you through all of the best monitors you can get for $300 or less, today. In addition to detailed breakdowns and reviews of each, we’ll also include an in-depth buying guide in order to help you make an informed buying decision, even if you didn’t come into this article with pre-existing display technology knowledge.
Let’s dive into it!
#1. ASUS VP249QGR
Screen Size: 23.8-Inch | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 (1080p HD) | PPI: ~92 | Refresh rate: 144 Hz | VRR: FreeSync and G-Sync | Response time: 1 ms | Panel type: IPS
The ASUS VP249QGR is our pick for the best 1080p 144 Hz monitor under $300. We’d also call it our favorite 1080p monitor in general, thanks to its stellar IPS 1 ms panel and 144 Hz refresh rate. Responsiveness and image quality are all out in full force here, and it shows!
In addition to the panel and high refresh rate, we also have a much-desired inclusion of FreeSync and G-Sync support, which guarantees a tearing-free experience as long as you’re within the monitor’s refresh range.
While 1080p may not be as hyped up as it used to be, it’s still a perfectly sharp and clear resolution for monitors of this size, and a relatively easy resolution for modern graphics cards to push in your favorite games, even at 144 Hz. Combine this monitor with one of our budget GPU picks and you’re bound to have a fairly good time.
Verdict: Best 1080p 144 Hz Monitor Under $300 / Best 24-Inch Monitor Under $300
#2. Pixio PX275h
Screen Size: 27-Inch | Resolution: 2560 x 1440 (1440p) | PPI: ~108 | Refresh rate: 95 Hz | VRR: FreeSync and G-Sync | Response time: 4 ms | Panel type: IPS
Our pick for best 27-inch monitor under $300 (as well as best 1440p IPS), is the Pixio PX275h. This is a 27-inch 1440p monitor with a great IPS panel- basically all the features you could ask for in this price range. While it doesn’t have the 144 Hz that you may want in a monitor you’re spending this much money on, that unfortunately doesn’t come into play with IPS monitors at this resolution until you start spending much more than $300.
It’s not all bad news, though- the 95 Hz refresh rate may not be breaking any world records, but it’s still a considerable bump over 60 Hz. Considering that ~100 FPS is where many people start seeing the difference between 60 Hz and 144 Hz, this might actually be quite the sleeper pick in disguise!
If you’re looking for a great 1440p IPS monitor under $300, this is easily the best pick for your money.
Verdict: Best 27-Inch Monitor Under $300 / Best 1440p IPS Monitor Under $300
#3. Pixio PX329
Screen Size: 32-Inch | Resolution: 2560 x 1440 (1440p) | PPI: ~91 | Refresh rate: 165 Hz | VRR: FreeSync and G-Sync | Response time: 4 ms | Panel type: VA
The Pixio PX329 is a pretty stellar monitor, but there are some caveats attached.
First, the positives: this 32-inch behemoth uses a VA panel with surprisingly good color and sharpness, and especially good displaying of dark scenes. It maintains a PPI of 91, which means it’s suitable for using at an average viewing distance, though for most games (especially FPS) we may recommend sitting a bit further back from this one so that you can actually see all of your screenspace at once.
In addition to the good PPI and size, the expected standard features of FreeSync and G-Sync support are here, and most impressively this monitor even supports a whopping 165 Hz! Not bad, right?
…this is where we have to mention the catch.
Because this monitor is using a VA panel, it’s more prone to slow pixel response times than a TN or IPS panel. In real-world testing done by Hardware Unboxed, it was revealed that this monitor’s actual effective refresh rate (due to such a high pixel response time incurred by the VA panel, which is higher than the official spec) is more like 120 Hz than 165 or 144 Hz.
Even so, that’s still pretty good for this price range- still the best in this price range at this resolution, actually. For that reason, we’re still fairly comfortable recommending the Pixio PX329, especially if you also want to use your monitor for some console gaming on the side.
Want a graphics card to go with this monitor or our #2 pick? Click here to check out our roundup of 1440p GPUs!
Verdict: Best 1440p 144Hz Monitor Under $300
#4. LG 27UD60-B
Screen Size: 27-Inch | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 (4K) | PPI: ~163 | Refresh rate: 60 Hz | VRR: FreeSync and G-Sync | Response time: 5 ms | Panel type: IPS
The LG 27UD60-B is our pick for the best 4K monitor under $300. It’s refurbished, but that’s pretty much the only way to get a 4K IPS monitor for under $300. If you don’t mind spending a little more, consider bumping up to the LG 27UL500-W, which is available for $350 a the time of writing and offers all the same key features as this one. (It might actually be a little better!)
Otherwise, what you get for your money with this monitor is a solid 27-inch, 4K, IPS display running at 60 Hz with proper FreeSync and G-Sync support. That last part is especially important for a 60 Hz monitor, where you don’t want to be forced to use V-Sync, which can cause severe performance dips whenever the refresh target isn’t met. Using Free/G-Sync and a 59 FPS cap will give you a perfect, tear-free experience with this monitor without incurring extra input latency or risking severe performance dips.
With 4K resolution at this screen size, you’re going to be blessed with truly superb pixel density. Resolution scaling will also go a long way in helping you run games at 4K and 60 FPS if need be. We’d recommend an 1800p custom resolution for gaming on a monitor of this size and resolution as well. Virtually imperceivable difference in pixel density, but much higher performance.
This monitor not available or you don’t want to buy refurbished? Consider the AOC U279VQ instead, but note it doesn’t support FreeSync/G-Sync- you’ll need to use an FPS cap, V-Sync, or your GPU’s alternative Sync options instead.
Need a powerful GPU capable of pushing this monitor or one of our other picks? Check out our massive Best Gaming GPU roundup- including 4K GPUs!
Verdict: Best 4K Monitor Under $300
Buying The Best Gaming Monitor Under $300 For You
In this section, we’re going to break down all the tech specs and jargon that we threw around in the reviews above. If you already consider yourself fairly tech-savvy, you may not think you need this section, but we at least recommend glancing over the response time section due to fairly common misconceptions about that specification.
If you don’t consider yourself fairly tech-savvy, you’re in luck: this is where we break down all you need to know in easy-to-understand language. We want to help you buy the best monitor for your needs, not just point at the most expensive thing on the list and say “go there!”.
Panel type and why it matters
When buying a monitor, it’s important to take into consideration the underlying panel type. While not a commonly-discussed spec outside of enthusiast circles, the monitor’s panel type will actually have a massive impact on your experience!
There are three main monitor panel types for you to know about:
- TN (Twisted Nematic) – Very cheap, but also very fast and responsive.
- VA (Vertical Alignment) – A bit more expensive than TN, but with great improvements to picture quality.
- IPS (In-Panel Switching) – The most expensive, but the best in regards to picture quality and color accuracy.
In today’s market, we largely recommend IPS where possible, since its downsides in comparison to others are becoming increasingly minimal due to advancements in monitor technology. (It used to have much poorer refresh rates and response times.) However, TN is also worth considering for the most serious eSports professionals, and VA offers a nice in-between with some displays. (VA is also the best at handling dark scenes in movies and games since it doesn’t have IPS’ always-on backlights.)
- TN – Cheap, the fastest pixel response time, the highest refresh rates
- IPS – The best color reproduction and viewing angles, second-best pixel response time, second-best refresh rates
- VA – The best at displaying dark scenes, the second-best at color reproduction and viewing angles
- TN – The worst color reproduction and viewing angles
- IPS – Backlight bleed hurts dark scenes, the most expensive
- VA – The worst pixel response time and refresh rates
Understanding screen size, resolution, and PPI
When evaluating picture quality on a monitor, it’s important that you don’t just look at a monitor’s resolution. You need to combine resolution and screen size to create a more important metric, which is called PPI (or Pixels Per Inch). PPI will determine the actual perceived fidelity of a screen, with a PPI of around ~90 considered the ideal target for most PC monitors at regular viewing distances. This is the PPI targeted by 24-inch 1080p monitors, for instance.
Fortunately, all of the monitors we’ve chosen in this article are pretty good where PPI is concerned- and in the cases of the 1440p and 4K monitors, outright superb.
Ideal Screen Sizes for Common Resolutions
- 1080p – 24-inch or smaller (~89-91 PPI @ 24 inches)
- 1440p – 32-inch or smaller (90 PPI @ 32 inches, 108 PPI @ 27 inches)
- 4K – 32-inch or smaller (137 PPI @ 32 inches, 163 PPI @ 27 inches)
Understanding refresh rate and frame rate
In-game frame rate (also known as FPS, or frames per second) is a big deal to PC gamers, and competitive gamers in general. This is because the more frames you get within a certain span of time, the more visually smooth the image will look to you…as long as your display can keep up.
Separate from in-game FPS but very strongly related is a monitor’s refresh rate. The refresh rate, measured in Hertz, counts the number of times the screen can “refresh” (display a new image) in a second. This means that your display refresh rate serves as a limiter on the maximum in-game FPS that you can actually see. Most monitors and TVs use 60 Hz, but many gaming monitors push Hz into the hundreds to enable a smoother gaming experience.
If you’re interested in learning how in-game framerate and monitor refresh rate can impact your performance in-game, we highly recommend the video from LinusTechTips we’ve embedded below. This is the most detailed study we’ve seen on this matter, and it offers a fair bit of compelling evidence in favor of high refresh gaming for those who want a competitive edge.
If you aren’t interested in competitive gaming, this part will probably not matter as much to you. However, we’ll still list a few common refresh rate targets below:
- 60 Hz – 60 FPS: The standard for most to consider a game “smooth”. Was often halved to 30 FPS by games during the PS4/XB1 console generation.
- 75 Hz – 75 FPS: A marginal improvement over 60 FPS, but an improvement nonetheless. Shouldn’t be very noticeable to most.
- 100 Hz – 100 FPS: Where the most noticeable improvement from 60 FPS can be seen, at least for most people. A good balanced target for single-player games where you want increased fluidity in a high refresh monitor without overly hurting visual quality.
- 120 Hz – 120 FPS: The original high refresh standard. May feel slightly better than 100 FPS for some.
- 144 Hz – 144 FPS: The current high refresh standard. Should feel incredibly smooth for most, but not much moreso than 120.
- 240 Hz – 240 FPS: An emerging high refresh standard. While many gamers may not notice it, particularly high-level competitive players do.
What is response time?
Response time, or more accurately pixel response time, is a measurement of how quickly a given pixel can shift from one color to another, usually G2G (Gray-to-Gray). Many people think this measures input lag (the time it takes for an action on a gamepad/keyboard/mouse/etc to be reflected onscreen), but in actuality, this specification has nothing whatsoever to do with input lag.
What pixel response time actually affects is perceived unwanted motion blur, also called smearing or ghosting. If the pixel response time is too high (slow), then that means motion will be much less clear and harder to track, which can be a problem for gamers, especially those playing fast-paced titles with rapid camera movement. (ie any first-person shooter).
This becomes especially problematic when trying to push high refresh rates- if the response time is too high, then you may not even see an actual benefit to the higher refresh rate. This is most commonly an issue with cheaper VA panels marketed as high refresh, but usually isn’t an issue with high-end gaming monitors. (5 ms is still good enough for 144 Hz, for instance.)
What is VRR? What is the difference between G-Sync and FreeSync?
VRR stands for Variable Refresh Rate, and it refers to a monitor’s ability to support real-time refresh rate changes. (ie= game running at 40 FPS, monitor runs at 40 Hz with exact pacing with frames so as to prevent screen tearing and lessen perceived input lag caused by inconsistent frame-pacing or buffering). FreeSync and G-Sync both do this, and until recently were exclusive to AMD and Nvidia, respectively.
Over time, FreeSync support has become standard on both AMD and Nvidia GPUs, but G-Sync (in some cases) may not support AMD GPUs. While these technologies do the same thing, traditional G-Sync (not ‘G-Sync Compatible’, which in today’s lingo means FreeSync) requires extra hardware in the monitor, which raises prices. Now that FreeSync has mostly taken over as the standard, though, you shouldn’t need to pay extra for this particular feature.
VRR essentially functions as a hardware version of V-Sync, a software technology used to synchronize frames to screen refreshes at the cost of increased input lag and more severe performance stutters when dropping below the target frame rate. VRR is able to do everything V-Sync can but without those downsides, so we highly recommend it for gamers everywhere. (If playing on a 60 Hz monitor, though, you may want to use an app like RivaTuner Statistics Server to cap in-game FPS to 59 Hz.)
Does HDR matter?
In PC monitors…not really, for the time being.
The reason for this is simple: PC HDR sucks.
The reason for that is a little less simple, and requires an understanding of the underlying technology. In display technology, HDR (High Dynamic Range) refers to the ability to use individual discrete backlighting zones that can get super bright or turn itself off completely. On big 4K HDR TVs, this isn’t much of an issue, since you have plenty of physical space for all these backlighting zones. For comparatively much smaller PC monitors, though, you start running into physical limitations- limitations that currently mean most PC HDR implementations simply cannot compete with TV HDR implementations.
If you want the most vibrant colors possible in your PC gaming experience, get a color calibration tool and an IPS panel.
And that’s it!
We hope that this article taught you all you need to know in order to choose best gaming monitor under $300 for your needs. If you feel like our list is outdated or you need anymore help, feel free to leave a comment in the comments section below, and we’ll be eager to help you out!